As gardeners we spend a lot of time tricking plants into growing leaves when they might prefer going to seed. Summer lettuce is a great example of such gardening guile.
Lettuce likes the mild temperatures of late spring and early fall. The heat of summer affects the germination rate, how quickly it bolts, and flavor. Here are some tips:
-Deep red lettuces are generally more bitter, so choose green varieties for summer growing if that bothers you.
-Stick to loose leaf varieties designed for cut-and-come-again harvesting. Cutting the whole plant above the growth point will keep the plant producing more leaves instead of going to seed. Try mixing Green Oakleaf, Bronze Mignonette, and Tango for salads.
-If you really want to grow heads of lettuce and you’re up for the challenge, choose heat tolerant varieties like Jericho or Buttercrunch. They germinate better and are less likely to bolt during the time it takes to head up.
-Strike a fine balance between air flow, shade, and humidity. Provide some shade for the plants, like shade cloth, row cover, or other (taller) plants. Careful watering will keep the plants cool, but too little air flow and they might rot.
-At lastly, harvest your lettuce in the cool mornings when the plants are happiest!